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Republican senators kill
last-ditch effort to cut tax

JACKSON (Tuesday, March 20, 2007) – Mississippi voters must hold Republican Gov. Haley Barbour and Republican state senators accountable for the death today of a last-ditch effort to cut the state grocery tax during the 2007 Legislature.

State senators voted 31-20 in favor of reviving the issue during the waning days of the three-month legislative session. The move, however, fell three votes short of the two-thirds majority, or 34 votes, the issue’s supporters needed.

“Haley and his Republican state senators must and will be held responsible for this action,” said Wayne Dowdy, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party. “Their refusal to consider this issue is a slap-in-the-face to all Mississippians.”

State House members voted last month for a bill to reduce Mississippi’s sales tax on groceries – one of the highest in the nation – from 7 cents to 3½ cents on the dollar. The bill also would have raised the state cigarette tax – one of the lowest in the nation – from 18 cents to $1 a pack.

But that bill died last week when Republican state Sen. Tommy Robertson of Moss Point refused to let the Senate Finance Committee he chairs consider the measure. Barbour, a former tobacco lobbyist, also promised to veto the bill if it cleared the state Senate.

After the House bill’s demise, supporters spent last week looking for a way to revive the issue. That led to the failed attempt today to suspend the Legislature’s procedural rules and revive the sales tax-cigarette tax issue before the legislative session ends April 1.

While Barbour said last week he plans to offer his own, unspecified tax-cut proposal in the future, people shouldn’t count on it – especially after Barbour and his Republican lawmakers rejected a chance this year to enact a meaningful tax cut that would have helped everyone immediately.

“Don’t believe a word Haley Barbour says because it’s nothing but tired campaign rhetoric,” Dowdy said. “Haley Barbour is two-faced on important issues – he says one thing, but does something else.

“Haley doesn‘t care about Mississippians and the working men and women of this state. If he did, he would have backed cutting the tax on groceries instead of protecting the interests of big tobacco companies – like he did when he was a Washington lobbyist.”


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